Jan 19 2006

Shelby discusses agenda with residents

The Auburn Plainsman


By Kenneth Thompson


Lee County residents enjoyed a healthy dose of U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., in the Auburn City Council chambers Tuesday morning.


“These meetings give the people of Alabama access to me and provide them the opportunity to ask questions as well as make some suggestions,” Shelby said. “This is healthy not only for me; it’s also healthy for the people.”


Walker Jackson, a Lee County resident, was thrilled about the opportunity to speak with the senator.


“He is a personable and honest man,” Jackson said. “I usually like to see more limits on a senator’s term. But I feel like Shelby represents me and a lot of other people in this state in a healthy fashion.”


Speaking of health, Medicare was one of the key issues at the meeting, along with the war on terrorism.


“Medicare and Medicaid are each growing by such leaps that they could eventually eat up 80 percent to 90 percent of our national budget,” Shelby said.


The animated Shelby then made the audience laugh as he held up a recent edition of The Wall Street Journal with a front-page article explaining the Medicare Part D drug plan.


“The title, ‘D – Mystified,’ is appropriate,” Shelby said. “This and other attempts at an explanation are too complicated.”


Shelby ’s concern about the public’s perception of the plan stems from recent complaints to his office.


“Two women called me the other week and blasted me out about the Medicare Part D drug plan,” Shelby said. “When the third woman called and said she liked the plan, I was so thankful that I told her, ‘ma’am, we need to get your name and run a TV ad on you.’”


Many dual-eligibles, or those who are eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, are experiencing problems around the country with getting their medications under the new Part D benefit. But 24 states, including Alabama , have taken steps to ensure that these people get their medications.


After his concerns about Medicare, Shelby ’s animation carried over to his discussion on the war on terrorism.


“The worst thing to do about the situation in Iraq would be to cut and run,” Shelby said. “That would be sending a message to the Islamic world that we are paper tigers.”


Shelby remained adamant when asked about the timeline for the war in Iraq .


“You will hear about the war on terror for the next 50 to 100 years,” Shelby said. “It’s not something that’s just going to go away.”


Shelby said for the coming year, he will stick to his conservative roots and continue working for the people of Alabama .


Auburn City Manager David Watkins said the city gets to submit a list of projects to Shelby ’s agenda.


Shelby ’s agenda has always been helpful to us,” Watkins said.


After speaking about his agenda and answering questions, Shelby concluded the meeting by thanking those in attendance and apologizing for being a University of Alabama alumnus.